New images released by Nottingham City Council vividly show the major transformation due to begin later this year in the city centre with the creation of a wildlife-rich Green Heart.

Work on the Green Heart is due to begin this Autumn as a key element of the vision developed by world renowned Heatherwick Studios for the city’s Broad Marsh area and the site of the former shopping centre.

The design of the Green Heart is unique to Nottingham and has been developed by Townshend Landscape Architects along with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, with Heatherwick Studio retained as a strategic design advisor.

Nearby on Collin Street, work has already begun on a new public space outside the new Central Library building as part of a playable cities initiative to create child friendly spaces in the city centre.  Local school children were consulted on the design which will feature specially designed swings and seating so the space can be somewhere families gather and spend time together.

When Collin Street reopens, there will be a traffic-free route connecting the Green Heart and Lister Gate with the new people-friendly, green public space created on Sussex Street next to Nottingham College which features a mini amphitheatre, a skateable space and a multi-use games area.

It will enhance biodiversity by introducing green ecologically rich areas and diverse natural spaces providing habitats and food for wildlife, forming a green infrastructure network linking across the wider Broad Marsh area from Nottingham Castle through to the Island Quarter site and beyond.

The design carves into the site creating pathways, pocket spaces and seating for people to use and enjoy, bringing nature back through ecologically rich planting.

A key aim is to put the ‘marsh’ back to the Broad Marsh, introducing new urban wetlands on land that was once a marshland ecosystem to capture, slow and filter rainwater, potentially preventing flooding and creating pockets of biodiversity. 

Sandstone, the rock on which Nottingham Castle was built and into which the city’s unique cave system was cut, will be used for paving and seating. A long bench will arc through the planting and marsh allowing people to sit, enjoy and experience nature. 

Leader of Nottingham City Council, Cllr David Mellen, said: “More green space was by far the most popular response when we asked people what they would like to see happen around Broad Marsh as part of the huge Big Conversation engagement exercise the council ran a couple of years ago.

“Anyone who has visited the area recently will see how much it has changed with lots of greenery, pedestrianised areas and seating. The creation of the Green Heart will take the transformation of Broad Marsh a major step further and be a beautiful addition to the city centre which is unique to Nottingham. I’m particularly pleased that Collin Street will be a family friendly space that people can enjoy right outside the new Central Library.”

Gary Alden, Senior Associate at Townshend Landscape Architects, said: ”We have worked closely with Nottingham City Council and local stakeholders to design a place that encapsulates what we collectively coined ‘Nottinghamness’, creating a place that is part of, and inspired by Nottingham.

“Expressing the sandstone, and creating a ‘marsh’ to manage rainwater, is a nature-led solution providing an urban wetland ecosystem for wildlife and people to enjoy.

“From what the spaces once were, this has been a massive undertaking by Nottingham City Council.  We are thrilled to see people enjoying the newly created public spaces on Sussex Street, and are excited that work has now started on Collin Street and then the Green Heart later this year.”

Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Since December 2020 we’ve sought to ensure that the creation of a special space for people and nature in the heart of the city was central to plans for the Broadmarsh area, so we’re excited that work to create the first phase of the Green Heart will soon get under way.

“By embracing the value and power of nature we believe that Nottingham has a unique opportunity to drive new investment and transform the City landscape. We look forward to continuing to work with Nottingham City Council and key partners to ensure that new wildlife-rich green spaces and wider ecological connectivity across the City are central to future phases of redevelopment.”